The first challenge is…
1. Focus on the truth that unity is sacred.
Unity is God’s idea.
Unity is God’s priority.
It is something we must get right.
This is an absolute for us.
There is no debate about it.
Unity is holy.
So we have to get it right.
This is not to say that we can’t disagree.
Disagreements are a part of being a family.
But how we disagree is very important.
Every once in a while, I hear someone say, “I don’t want to disagree because I don’t want to be accused of disunity.”
You are right.
You don’t want to be accused of disunity, because unity is sacred.
If we voice our disagreements with anger, we are wrong.
If we voice our disagreements with a critical spirit, we are in the wrong.
If we voice our disagreements by talking about people, instead of to them, then we are in the wrong.
But if we voice our disagreements with a spirit of love, grace and compassion, it can lead to a healthy discourse as we work to discern the Spirit’s leading.
This brings us to our second challenge which is to…
2. Practice unity since it is essential to accomplishing our purpose.
The ESV translates part of verse three with “eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit…”
Other versions translate it this way…
“Make every effort…”
“Being diligent to preserve…”
“Do your best…”
In other words, we are called to give an all out effort when it comes to unity.
So why is this so important?
It is important because God uses unity to enable us to achieve kingdom purposes.
Unity is the vehicle the church rides to fulfill its mission.
And what is our mission?
We are called on to multiply, by making disciples of Jesus, intentionally reaching the spiritually lost of our community.
This brings us, then, to our third challenge which is to…
3. Control any attitude and/or action which prevents us from experiencing unity.
In one of my old nursery rhyme books, there is this limerick:
ILL Unity (H)
There once were two cats of Killkenny.
Each thought there was one cat too many.
They fought and they spit,
They clawed and they bit,
Till instead of two cats there weren’t any!
We know that is not what we want to experience.
But the truth we must face is that a divided church is a dying church.
This means, then, we have to be deliberate about putting away the attitudes and actions that are hurting us…
…a “my way is best” type of thinking
Let me stop here for a moment and answer briefly this question, what is gossip?
Gossip is when you’re sharing a problem or criticism with someone who is neither part of the problem or part of the solution.
If they are not participating in the problem or in the solution, we don’t talk about it with them.
God wants us to discipline our tongues.
It is a mark of real maturity.
Gossip, on the other hand, is immature.
Control every attitude and action…
We must guard every thought, control every word, and discipline every action to be sure that we are sowing unity, and not discord.
The final challenge, admittedly, might sound self-serving, but I want to assure you, it is biblical…that is…